Reflective skills of pharmacists in patient counselling


  • Heli Kansanaho Division of Social Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Viikinkaari 5 E (B.O.Box 56), 00014, Finland
  • Maria Cordina Department of SocialPharmacy, University of Malta, Malta
  • Marja Airaksinen Division of Social Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland


Pharmacists, level of critical reflection, reflectivity, learning process


Background:  Both  the  work  and  the  roles  of  community  pharmacists  have  been  changing  rapidly  over  the  last  decades. Nowadays  pharmacists  are  expected  to  develop  and  re-evaluate  their  expertise  in  order  to  succeed  in  an  ever-changing professional culture contributing to the demands of society. One of the tasks that, has become essential in modern pharmacy practice is reflective communication about medicines with patients.  The worldwide experiences of Pharmacists include problems in applying theoretical knowledge in a practice setting and particularly in patient counselling.

Aim: To describe the levels of reflective learning of 40 Finnish community pharmacists in the context of patient counselling and health education. Theories that are used as a framework for the analysis are based on patient counselling according to USP Medication Counselling Stages and Metzirow’s theoretical underpinning.

Method:  The  data  for  this  study  comprised  of  essays  written  by  a  convenience  sample  of  40  practicing  pharmacists(M.Sc. Pharm. and B.Sc. Pharm) before starting the one-year patient counselling courses in 2000 (n=21) and 2001(n=19). The data were thematically content analysed. Results: The findings of the study identified only one pharmacist reached the level of critical consciousness. Altogether 22 pharmacists remained at the level of affective reflectivity (i.e. the novice level of competency) and 10 remained at the level consciousness (i.e. the beginner level of competency). These pharmacists belonging to these two groups needed continuing education in basic pharmacotherapy knowledge and communication skills.  Apart from one pharmacist, they had poor understanding of the interactive role of a customer (concordance).

Conclusions: These results may indicate that the pharmacist should reach the level of critical reflection before (s)he can develop competency empowerment-based patient counselling. New teaching methods and evaluation tools applicable to basic education,  continuing  education and in-house  training  are  needed  to  support  reflective learning  process  in  developing professional competencies, such as patient counselling skills.


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Research Article